It’s become fashionable for organizations to talk about storytelling, and for business communicators to be seen as storytellers. Just as they have been described as “corporate journalists.”
But communicators are in a position to do a lot more than tell the tale. Actually, they can change the script itself. By using their knowledge and relationships to make introductions, they can alter the course and performance of their companies.
Taking the initiative to connect people who might otherwise remain unconnected is called “transformational networking.” It differs markedly from traditional networking, where the main goai is for individuals to make lots of contacts for their own use.
This is not to say that initiating connections between people is altruistic or a “nice to have.” Indeed, if encouraged and seen as part of a communicator’s role, it may outweigh other activities in organizational benefit.
As communication functions are among the few in corporate life with explicitly integrative perspectives, communicators over time develop a unique perspective on the talents, needs and temperaments of the people they interview and follow, and can easily make connections that cross geographic and functional lines. During my time in-house, I personally initiated numerous connections, especially to introduce new leaders to colleagues who could quickly empower them in their new roles.
Transformational networking is not new.
What is new is that there is more impetus from associations and other actors to ask professionals to take initiative in their networking and to see it as a way to regularly make a difference, instead as a way to hoard resources in preparation for a job search. It’s also an area where I have become active, co-leading sessions with expert and author Lin McDevitt-Pugh at 2017 IABC EuroComm conference in London and at IABC’s 2017 World Conference in Washington.
As my dad is a journalist, I’ve often been asked, “why aren’t you a journalist?” I’ve always answered “because I was more interested in making the news than writing about it.” As communicators, we have more scope to make a difference than by just telling the story. By intervening and creating new relationships, we indeed have the power to change the script.
For more, buy a copy of Lin’s book, “So You Think You Can’t Network.”